Faith should not end in Sto. Niño de­vo­tion

Manila Bulletin - - Views • Features - By FR. BEL SAN LUIS, SVD

TO­MOR­ROW is the feast of the Sto. Niño. Due to the Filipinos’ great love for the Holy Child, the Holy Fa­ther years ago granted the feast uniquely only for the Philip­pine Church.

Rich and poor, young and old alike main­tain a strong, al­most fa­nat­i­cal, de­vo­tion to the Holy Child. Fiestas and col­or­ful pro­ces­sions are held in his honor.

** * Big and mini stat­ues of the Sto. Niño are dressed en­dear­ingly in var­i­ous forms and at­tires. There’s a Sto. Niño clad as a fire­man or a po­lice­man (ob­vi­ously not with hand reach­ing out for a tong!). There is even a Sto. Niño clothed in green, rep­re­sent­ing the green buck (US dol­lars) Filipinos dream of hav­ing, es­pe­cially now that the dol­lar rate is ris­ing.

** * No doubt, such forms of de­vo­tions are re­ally help­ful for piety—and the tourism in­dus­try!—but our faith should not end there. Rather our faith and de­vo­tions must be trans­lated into our ev­ery­day con­duct, liv­ing and deal­ings. Just as the Child Je­sus grew up and ma­ture, so should our faith.

* ** There’s an amus­ing story about a pet par­rot trained by pi­ous nuns to pray. By pulling the right foot, it would re­cite the “Our Fa­ther”; when pulling the left, it would pray “Hail Mary.”

** * One day a bishop paid the nuns a visit. To im­press their dis­tin­guished guest, the nuns bragged of their pi­ous bird and gamely prod­ded him to pull the bird’s feet suc­ces­sively. The bishop ea­gerly obliged as in­structed. He was amazed how the par­rot promptly re­sponded, pray­ing the “Our Fa­ther,” then the “Hail Mary.”

** * The bishop won­dered what it would pray if he pulled both feet at the same time. Slowly, he grabbed both and the bird got off-bal­anced and an­grily swore, “Lang hiya ka, mahuhu­log ako!” (“Darn you, I’ll fall down!”). Poor bishop, he thought the bird would pray “Glory be to the Fa­ther.”

* ** We Filipinos are a re­li­gious and prayer­ful peo­ple. But, like that par­rot, when we’re in a fix or in dire need of money, we for­get God’s com­mands against steal­ing, over­pric­ing projects, or traf­fick­ing in il­le­gal drugs to make a fast buck.

This piety split from daily con­duct and deal­ings is also shown in traf­fic sit­u­a­tions where road cour­tesy is un­known to many driv­ers, yet they are devo­tees to the Sto. Niño as shown in mini im­ages dis­played in front of the ve­hi­cles’ wind­shields.

*** Fur­ther, we are a coun­try which is vastly Chris­tian but we are one of the high­est when it comes to graft and cor­rup­tion, crimes of vi­o­lence and nowa­days ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings.

** * While pop­u­lar de­vo­tions are cer­tainly part of Chris­tian faith, the greater chal­lenge is to ap­ply Christ’s teach­ings of love, hon­esty, jus­tice, for­give­ness in ev­ery so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic sphere of life. Other­wise, the Lord will in­dict us as he did the hyp­ocrites dur­ing his time, say­ing: “This peo­ple honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.”

** * FAM­ILY TV MASS — aired on IBC 13 (chan­nel 15 cable) at 7-8 a.m. ev­ery Sun­day; also on in­ter­na­tional GMA Pi­noy TV. Spon­sor: ANDOK’S LITSON CORP., West Ave. QC. Mass cel­e­brant: Rev. Fr. Lawrence Llona, SVD.


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